10 Popular Home Upgrades That Can Cost Less Than You Think

Homeowners hoping to spruce up their interiors, make exterior repairs, or embark upon a long-desired home addition may find themselves daunted and dismayed by the projected expense. It often seems that a home renovation or repair job ends up costing much more than anticipated, and the prospect of shelling out all that cash may cause some people to put off projects indefinitely. There are, however, numerous ways that the budget-conscious consumer can cut corners without compromising project quality or design vision. Here is a list of 10 common home upgrades that may be cheaper than you thought.

Calculating Return on Your Reno

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Planning Home Renovations

Savvy homeowners have ways of holding down costs. For instance, handy do-it-yourselfers can save money by taking on some or all of the renovations themselves. Another strategy for making a project more budget-friendly is to scale back the scope and choose less expensive materials, appliances, fixtures, and finishes. Purchasing secondhand and salvaged materials is another budget-smart tactic. Those homeowners who aren't in a position to scrimp can take comfort in the knowledge that a well-timed, well-executed renovation can increase their home's resale value: Depending on the specific project, a homeowner can recoup anywhere from 53 to a whopping 95 percent of the cost when selling the house, according to the " Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report" from real estate media firm Hanley Wood. While the possibility of a benefit down the road doesn't reduce the immediate cost of a renovation, it could help take some of the sting out of it.

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Kitchen Remodeling

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Kitchen Remodeling for Less

An upscale kitchen remodeling job can set you back $135,547 for custom cabinets, stone countertops, and commercial-grade appliances, and a midrange kitchen remodel can cost up to $68,490. Yet either approach typically generates only a 53 to 59 percent return on investment, according to the Cost vs. Value report. For a renovation that delivers on both impact and returns, consider a midrange minor kitchen remodel, which typically costs about $23,452 but returns 77.6 percent on resale. In a minor remodel, you make do with some of the kitchen's existing materials and replace others. For instance, you save bundles by refacing cabinets instead of replacing them, and you spring for new standard energy-efficient appliances that will help you save money with each monthly utility bill.

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Bath Remodeling

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Bathroom Remodeling for Less

If you go all out, an upscale bathroom renovation can cost $67,106. This luxe project might include installing a soaking tub and separate neo-angle shower with body spray fixtures, tile walls and floors, stone countertops, double sinks, a compartmentalized commode, custom cabinetry, and electric in-floor heating. A midrange bath remodel, on the other hand, is more than ritzy enough for most homeowners and rings in around $21,377. Even at one-third the price of the upscale reno, a midrange project can include new standard fixtures, a solid-surface countertop with integral sink, a ceramic tile floor, and vinyl wallpaper. When it comes time to sell the house, it's easier to recoup the costs of a more modest update: The midrange remodel generates a 64 percent return versus 56.6 percent for the upscale job.

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Adding a Deck

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New Wood House Deck

The choice of materials has a significant effect on the final cost of a deck. The average deck addition using composite decking can cost $19,856, which includes features like a built-in bench and planter, matching stairs, and a composite railing. If that price seems steep, know that the same deck addition would cost about $14,360 when using pressure-treated wood.

Related: The Best Things You Can Do for the Value of Your Home

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Replacing the Roof

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Replacing Roof Shingles

When you get around to putting on a new roof, it's usually a necessity. This isn't a project you can just put off. But the material you choose can make or break your budget. A new metal roof can cost $40,318 for 3,000 square feet of prefinished, standing-seam metal roofing with matching preformed accessories, including a drip edge, gable trim, and vented ridge flashing; the average return on investment is 61.2 percent. Compare that to a roof made of fiberglass asphalt shingles, which comes in at $24,700 but returns 65.9 percent, according to the Cost vs. Value Report.

Related: 7 Signs You Need a New Roof

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Replacing Siding

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New Vinyl Siding

No surprises here: The materials you choose for a siding replacement project determine the cost of the update. Homeowners replacing 1,250 square feet of siding with new factory-primed and factory-painted fiber-cement siding and trim can expect to pay $17,008 and reap a 77.6 percent return on investment upon selling the house. For a lower-cost project, homeowners can get the same amount of new vinyl siding at the lower average price of $14,359 and generate a return of 74.7 percent.

Related: 7 Signs Your House Needs New Siding

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Replacing Windows

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Replacing House Windows

There are a lot of good reasons to replace old windows with new ones, including energy-efficiency, heightened security, UV coating that will protect furnishings from fading, and enhanced household safety in high winds. Once again, the materials chosen have a big bearing on the price of the project. Thrifty homeowners may want to consider vinyl windows over wood: 10 double-hung vinyl windows cost approximately $17,641 and generate a return of 72.3 percent, while the same number of wood windows cost an average of $21,495, with a return of about 68.9 percent.

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Master Suite Addition

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Master suite bedroom bathroom

Adding a master suite to your home can be a costly investment, but very size and scope of such a project means that there are plenty of opportunities to choose materials, finishes, and fixtures that won’t break the bank. The cost of an upscale 32-by-20-foot master suite addition can run as much as $282,062. That price includes a bedroom with a lounging/sitting area adjacent to a large master bath; custom bookcases and built-in storage with millwork details; a high-end gas fireplace with stone hearth and custom mantel; a walk-in closet/dressing area with natural light, mirrors, and linen storage; and French doors. The upscale bathroom includes a walk-in shower with a dual-shower system, stone walls and floor, a custom frameless glass enclosure, a freestanding soaking tub, double sinks, stone countertops, in-floor heating, a partitioned commode area, and a luxury toilet. This top-of-the-line addition also includes a hospitality center with bar sink, undercounter refrigerator, custom cabinetry, stone countertop, and microwave. A smaller, 24-by-16-foot master suite addition costs less than half, at $136,739, and includes a walk-in closet/dressing area, a freestanding soaking tub, a separate ceramic tile shower, and a double-bowl vanity with solid-surface countertop. The upscale addition generates a return of 51.6 percent, while the midrange addition returns 58.5 percent.

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Bathroom Addition

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Adding New Bathroom

Adding a new 100-square-foot upscale master bath can cost $91,287 and includes custom cabinetry, tile walls and floors, a soaking tub and separate neo-angle shower, stone countertops with double sinks, a compartmentalized commode, and electric in-floor heating. A midrange bathroom addition, on the other hand, averages $49,598 and features a cultured-stone vanity top with molded sink, standard fixtures and hardware, a fiberglass tub and shower with a ceramic tile surround, and a ceramic tile floor. Return on investment is virtually the same, according to the Cost vs. Value Report: 54.7 percent for the upscale addition and 54 percent for the midrange project.

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Garage Door Replacement

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New Garage Doors Boost Home Value

Replacing the garage door is one of the shining stars of home remodeling, a project that has a fantastic effect on curb appeal. Adding a new four-section steel garage door with insulated glass windows on top and new heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks will cost $3,695, but homeowners will recoup 94.5 percent of the cost. There are, however, less expensive options, including plywood doors (as well as more expensive custom wood doors). To save money, consider eliminating the windows, and avoid choosing highly decorative or sculpted models.

Related: 5 Times a New Garage Door Made All the Difference

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Entry Door Replacement

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New Front Door Home

Another top-rated home improvement that dramatically boosts curb appeal is a new entry door. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, replacing an entry door with a new 20-gauge factory-finished steel unit, including a clear, dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs, an aluminum threshold with a composite stop, and a new lockset, costs an average of $1,881 and generates a return of 68.8 percent. Other alternatives can be more or less expensive, depending on the style, the number of windows, and extras like sidelights and transoms. Material options include wood, which can range from $500 to $5,000; fiberglass, which runs between $150 and $5,000, averaging in the $250 to $2,000 range; and composite wood, which generally costs between $40 and $500, but can run as high as $1,000 or more.

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